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Government veterinary doctors silent heroes

HISTORICALLY veterinary doctors were about the highest paid professionals in the civil service. This was in recognition of the long duration of training and the tremendous contribution towards the economic development of the country and contribution towards pu

blic health in general. This is no longer the case.

There are various reasons for this situation. There is no active unionism in the sector. Representation is through Dr Hargreaves who then reports to the ministry hierarchy, which is made up of non-veterinary specialists who are probably not interested in the welfare of veterinarians or are unable to articulate their problems. No other channel of communication is available.

It was only former Agriculture minister Kangai who was interested in the conditions of service of veterinarians. Other comparable professionals have been able to constantly push for salary hikes through industrial action time and again. It may interest the public to note that the Public Service Commission or government in general sees nothing wrong in paying nurses more than veterinary doctors. How embarrassing!

The result is that a massive brain drain is in progress. Very experienced personnel has moved to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and the UK. Those who have chosen to remain are trying to do a splendid job in support of the agrarian reform programme with no recognition at all. No one is bothered about the harsh working conditions in the rural areas.

The Central Veterinary Laboratory lost 75% of experienced veterinary doctors in the past six months alone. Consequently the diagnostic centre is now manned by rookies with the obvious effect on standards. The same applies to the field service (and we want beef exports to the European Union to recommence?).

Maybe there is a need for a separate Ministry for Livestock Development and Veterinary Affairs (like in Tanzania) and formation of a commission to look into conditions of service for veterinary and para-veterinary staff. It is probable that old Dr Hargreaves is not presenting matters upwards. He could be scared because he is already in the comfort sphere. In any case is it not time for this gentleman to make way for new and more proactive blood? Clearly he has overstayed at the helm.

Can we have a response from PSC? Takuvara!

Silent hero,

Borrowdale, Harare.

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